Jason Johnson's paint work on a Ford 900 Series 960 tractor.
Minnesota teen shows restoration experience beyond his age
Jason Johnson was 9 years old when he restored his first tractor - and it wasn't a toy tractor. 'My dad bought a 1946 Ford 2N and started restoring it,' the Chaska, Minn., native explains. 'I did most of the stuff a young kid could do, sandblasting, sanding, testing the wires and piddly stuff like that.'
Little did Jason know that now, at the age of 17, he would have dozens of tractor restorations under his belt - both for himself and others. In fact, the list of tractors Jason has restored almost covers the whole color spectrum: a Fordson Model F, Ferguson models 20, 35 and 40, two Ford Model 8Ns, Farmall models H, M and 300, a John Deere Model A and Allis-Chalmers tractors, just to name a few.
The restoration bug bit eight years ago. Jason liked the way the restoration looked after he and his father, Bob Radoush, finished that first 2N. After that, he wanted a tractor of his own. By the time he was a senior in high school, Jason owned 10 tractors and 45 implements, mostly for Ferguson-made tractors.
'Once we started, we just never stopped,' Jason says with a grin.
Jason will restore just about any type of tractor, but he and his father narrowed down their collectible list to Ford, Dearborn and Ferguson brands. Then, they pared the list down even further to solely focus on Ferguson for their personal collection. One reason for their decision, Jason says, is because most people don't know much about Ferguson tractors. He also likes the tractor design's three-point hitch, which makes for simple implement attachment.
Skeptics be gone
The roots of Jason and Bob's tractor interest grew serendipitously from a neighbor. An older fellow named Louie got Jason and Bob into tractor restoration when he bought land near Bob's body shop business. Louie stored some of his antique tractor collection on the land, and one day he showed the tractors to Bob and Jason. The father-and-son duo liked what they saw and soon bought the 1946 Ford Model 2N to restore.
'I don't think Louie ever knew that he started us on these old tractors,' Jason reflects.
Most collectors can't believe Jason's quality restorations at first glance. 'They usually think I'm going to try to do the painting with an old paint brush until they see what I can do,' Jason says. But, folks are convinced once they see his finished work displayed at threshing bees or farm shows, or when a satisfied customer picks up a finished tractor.
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